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White House Gives Pentagon Budget Guidance With Increase

The White House this week gave the Defense Department budget guidance through 2019 that calls for more money after 2015 than congressional budget caps allow, according to U.S. officials.

The Office of Management and Budget guidance, known as the “pass-back,” also includes for the first time an “investment fund” for programs the White House has approved to receive additional funds should they become available, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified because the directive hasn’t been made public.

As part of its budget submission to Congress, the Pentagon is expected to present the OMB investment fund to lawmakers to demonstrate where more money would be added to that allocated in last year’s bipartisan budget deal, one of the officials said. The federal budget, including the Pentagon blueprint, is due to be released on about March 4, the officials said.

The fiscal 2015 total for base defense spending excluding war operations is about $498 billion, or the same amount called for in last month’s agreement, and includes $9 billion in relief from the caps called for in the 2011 Budget Control Act. That’s still $44 billion less than the $542 billion the Pentagon last year said it would request for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

The new guidance calls for greater greater spending in 2016-2019 than those caps, which are $499 billion in fiscal 2016, $512 billion in 2017, $524 billion in 2018 and $536 billion in 2019.

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